Belarusian Centenarian Recounts Repression Under Stalin
Tony Wesolowsky, RFE/RL
A year after her father was found shot dead along with his two brothers, the Soviet authorities came for Yauheniya Arlouskaya. Arlouskaya was charged with espionage, a charge — and word — she didn’t understand as a 21-year-old living in Soviet Belarus in 1938. She was sentenced to 10 years in a penal colony, a fate shared by literally millions of others in the U.S.S.R. as Stalin’s Great Purge was grinding down any real or imagined resistance to the totalitarian system. She was released 10 years later, only to be sent back again for another six years.
Cambodia’s Hun Sen Vows to Hold Elections Despite Dissolution of Main Opposition Party
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday maintained that his country is governed by a multi-party democracy and said elections scheduled for next year would go on as planned, despite the recent dissolution of the only opposition party that posed a serious challenge to his rule. “When some players are banned, do you think it is necessary to cancel the whole game or event? Our principle of pluralism is applied exactly as in sports—without some players or groups, there are still many other players and groups for the game,” he said.
China Hints That It May Back North Korea In The Event Of A War
Chris Morris, Fortune Magazine
As US and South Korean military units conducted an annual air power exercise over the Korean Peninsula, China’s air force reportedly staged exercises in “routes and areas it has never flown before” over the Yellow and East Seas. The exercise involved reconnaissance planes, fighter jets, an early warning and control aircraft, and a joint operation with surface-to-air missile units. The South China Morning Post quotes Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, as saying the drills were done specifically to send a message to Donald Trump. “The timing of this high-profile announcement by the [People’s Liberation Army] is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further,” Jie told the Post.
China Hosts Global Forum Featuring Own Take On Human Rights
Christopher Bodeen, AP
Hundreds of participants attended the opening of a human rights forum in Beijing on Thursday in the latest installment of China’s energetic drive to showcase what it considers the strengths of its authoritarian political system under President Xi Jinping. China has long rejected traditional notions of human rights as defined by the Universal Declaration and Western constitutions, redefining the concept along the more prosaic lines of the right to development, health, nutrition and housing. Recent years have also seen the party advocate a wholesale rejection of “universal values” as merely a weapon to undermine China’s socialist system.
China’s “Sharp Power” Obscures Cultural Genocide In Tibet
China’s growing power projection in the fields of media, education, and political values and ideas is sometimes called soft-power. But a study of rising authoritarian influence, released today by the National Endowment for Democracy, says that it is more properly called “sharp power” since its goal is to pierce and penetrate targeted populations by manipulating and distorting the information that reaches them, NED President Carl Gershman told the Committee on House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Hong Kong Denies Entry to Taiwan Author Who Supported Pro-Democracy Movement
Immigration authorities in Hong Kong on Wednesday denied entry to a Taiwanese author who voiced public support for the 2014 pro-democracy movement in the former British colony. Chang Tieh-chih, former editor of Hong Kong’s City magazine, was turned back by immigration officers after he arrived at the city’s international airport, en route to a literary conference, according to his Twitter account. “So in the end, I was refused entry to Hong Kong at the airport,” Chang tweeted. “It seems they want to further control ties between residents of Taiwan and Hong Kong now,” he said. “They are basically now operating on the same principles as mainland China.”
Trump Picks Staunch Anti-Socialist Expelled From Bolivia In 2008 To Head Cuban Embassy
Karina Martín, PanAm Post
United States President Donald Trump has appointed the former Ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg, to run its embassy in Cuba, a decision that many predict to be controversial. “Appointing Ambassador Goldberg to Head the US Embassy in Cuba is quite provocative since he was expelled from Bolivia,” American University Professor Government William LeoGrande said, referencing Goldberg’s time as an ambassador there. President Evo Morales expelled him in 2008 for allegedly conspiring against his government. The United States still needs the approval of the Cuban regime, because Goldberg will not serve under the title of Ambassador, but rather as Chargé d’Affaires.
North Korean “Ghost Ships” Are Washing Up On The Shores Of Japan. Why?
Anna Fifield, The Washington Post
Three more empty boats were found along Japan’s west coast on Thursday, a day when the snow and the rain made sure the temperature never really rose above freezing. Two bodies reduced to skeletons were found near one. Almost every day for the last month, grisly discoveries like these have been made all along Japan’s western coastline, across the sea from North Korea. Many analysts think it’s a reflection of food shortages, which in turn are the result of tougher sanctions on North Korea imposed to punish the regime for its continued nuclear defiance.
Maduro Regimes Tries To Blackmail US: No Elections Will Be Held Unless Sanctions Are Removed
Sabrina Martín, PanAm Post
Negotiations between Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela and the country’s political opposition have reportedly fallen into a “vicious cycle” of threats that isn’t productive for either side. Maduro’s side has expressed an unwillingness to negotiate, even trying to blackmail its way out of international sanctions with threats of eliminating elections altogether.
Venezuela’s Elections Are Just A New Way For Maduro To Cling To Power
Nicolás Maduro, president of crisis-stricken Venezuela, will run for reelection in Venezuela in 2018, Vice President Tarick Al Aisammi announced in a Nov. 29 press conference. Just a few months ago, it would have seemed unlikely that the Maduro regime would opt for elections as a way to hold onto power. After three years in office, Venezuela is in full political and economic meltdown, with hyperinflation expected to top 2,300 percent this year. The regime has clearly been reprising the two tactics that worked for him back in October: suppressing turnout among opposition voters and using pork-barrel incentives to motivate his own base. In other words, Maduro’s electoral strategy seems to be less about winning democratic legitimacy than about ensuring that his opponents lose it.
Vietnam Bars Another Priest From Leaving Country
A Catholic priest from Hanoi has been banned from leaving the country for “national security” reasons. Father John Luu Ngoc Quynh from the Catholic Redemptorist Community in Hanoi was stopped by security officials at Noi Bai Airport on Dec. 5 and prevented from traveling to France, the community said in a statement. Security officers told Father Quynh that he “was banned from traveling abroad for the protection of national security, social order and safety.”